Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’

Variety | 3/20/2019 | Courtney Howard
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It’s a Herculean effort to take a multi-volume manga like author Akihito Tsukushi’s “Made in Abyss,” adapt it into a popular anime television series, and then compress the show into a coherent feature (technically, two movies), but the folks at Sentai Filmworks have done just that. Part one, “Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn,” will screen around the U.S. in its original Japanese on March 20 and in an English dub on March 25, to be followed at a later date by “Wandering Twilight,” which opened in Japan in January.

While the first half of director Masayuki Kojima’s cinematic cut-down hits more ebbs than flows, its character-driven escapades and colorful fantasy landscape are captivating enough to engage the uninitiated. Give or take a few tweaks to the material, this catchy premise about an adventurous tween girl and her amnesiac robot-boy companion exploring a mysterious chasm in her city adapts decently well from the small screen to the big, and from its original longer format to this relatively short running time.

Riko - Miyu - Tomita - Version - Cave-raider

Orphaned 12-year-old Riko (voiced by Miyu Tomita in the original Japanese version) is a mischievous, sassy, and intelligent cave-raider with a flair for theatrics. She can usually be found getting into trouble and concocting schemes with her best friend Nat (Mutsumi Tamura), much to their superiors’ chagrin. Since their town is perched on the precipice of the titular abyss, filled with mythical relics and titanic creatures, sitting in class is miserable for kids with wild imaginations and a yearning for exploration.

Riko’s world is turned upside-down by an encounter with a peculiar boy (Mariya Ise), whose mechanical arms and laser cannon hands rescue her and Nat from sure-fire death while they are out digging up artifacts in the first ring of the abyss. Since this robot-boy hybrid doesn’t remember who he is or where...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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